Missing Saturday Afternoons with Dr. E. Nick Witty

WELCOME DEAR GUEST TO THE DEN OF E. NICK WITTY

ALAN MILAIR 1931 – 2012

By Jerome A. Dolan
Art By Mr. Lobo

"Mr. Milair does his tademark laugh for the crew of Monster Mansion Memories..."

Baby Boomers and Monster Kids of Syracuse are mourning the passing of veteran TV personality Alan Milair who died peacefully on April 22, 2012. He was 81. Born in Charleston, WV, He moved to Syracuse to further his career. Mr. Milair had a 30 year career with WSYR in their Radio and television departments. He was a newsman, weatherman, and host of talk shows. On the radio he hosted MUSIC JUST FOR YOU. He also presented many classical music programs. He retired as AM/FM Program Manager for WSYR Radio. He will be remembered fondly as a local broadcasting legend.

"Title graphic for Monster Movie Matinee."

It was in the early 60’s that the TV station had all kinds of old horror movies, B-movies, and PD (Public Domain) Science-fiction movies and they needed a way to market and present them. They say a low budget brings out creativity. When MONSTER MOVIE MATINEE started in 1964 they had almost no budget. That didn’t stop Alan Milair, Bill Lape, and set designer Joe Turrsi. With a scavenger Hunt for all kinds of odds and ends, they put together their “jigsaw puzzle” and created their elaborate set of horror. Out of inspiration, imagination, and a lot of swap meet finds, they built the perfect creepy mood of the Monster Mansion.

Alan Milair hosted the program MONSTER MOVIE MATINEE from 1964 to 1980. The show aired on NBC Channel 3 on Saturday’s at 1 PM.  Mr. Milair played DR. E. NICK WITTY, the master of the Monster Mansion. His name, a clever pun that referenced the biblical phrase “den of iniquity” – or a place of wickedness.

"Alan Milair and Bill Lape on set."

His assistant was Epal, played by Willard “Bill” E. Lape Jr. – Epals’ name, of course was just his real last name backwards. More classic horror host word-play! Mr. Lape died September 19,2004.

"Click here to see the opening of the show on YouTube...

"Click here to see the opening of the show on YouTube...

Viewers don’t watch the Horror shows every week for the movies, they watch them for the host. Alan Milair was an early practitioner of the fine art of hosting horror on TV: he had fun with the audience, he had fun with the movies, and he never treated his audience with disrespect. The audience reciprocated and gave MONSTER MOVIE MATINEE high ratings that kept the show going through the turbulent 60’s and 70’s.

Mr. Milair was a performer that trusted the imagination of the audience. He created a unique persona as a mysterious disembodied hand. The hand had long black fingernails and wore a large ruby ring. You never saw his profile on camera. He would interview his “Dear Guest” from his high back chair, facing away from the camera.

"We wave goodbye to the Mansion..."

In video clips, that are on YouTube, you can see Mr. Milair being generous and giving credit to Bill Lape, Joe Turri, and the crew for the success of the show. He is survived by his son Dana Milair, Daughter Shawn Wayson and 8 grandchildren. Shawn Wayson is a broadcaster at WSYR-TV.

MONSTER MANSION MEMORIES is a documentary in production now by Wind Up Films. It will include interviews with Alan Milair who played Dr. E. Nick Witty, Joe Turrisi, and Chuck Waltz, a local collector that purchased the remaining set pieces including the casket and has them on display. Shooting is on going and should wrap up in May. A tenative deal is in place to air the doc on WSTM sometime in October as well as a DVD release.

 

8 thoughts on “Missing Saturday Afternoons with Dr. E. Nick Witty

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  3. Ever been to a Halloween shindig where the host tsrthus an alcoholic beverage in your hand and shows you to the snack table then . . . that’s pretty much it. How long did you stay? Long enough to watch Uncle Harry gets blitzed and hit on the neighbor’s wife? Well, make your own Halloween party 1000% better by getting this book. I can assure you these are not kidie games in the least. Monster Parties and Games takes you through some of your favorite movies like The Wolf Man in the first section which covers classic movies to a GhostBusters based game in the Dark Comedy section. Finally you end up with several choices in the Modern Horror and Science Fiction section like A Nightmare on Elm Street or Resident Evil . The games themselves require you to photocopy things like cards and game sheets from the book. Still other require you to personalize the game a bit with your own props and game pieces. Everything is detailed in the book another massive one at 218 pages and Kullstroem has left no detail unthought of when it comes to the game play. With a little preparation and this book you can make your Halloween party or really any monster themed party done at any time of the year like birthdays one that is really memorable in the minds of your guests.

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  5. Jerome thanks you and Horror Hosts and Creature Features will be doing a piece on Sammy Terry in the future! He’s a Indianapolis, Indiana legend and one of the biggest horror hosts!

  6. Very nice commentary Jerome. Thank you! I’m curious. Have you ever heard of the ghoulish Friday night horror host Sammy Terry, based out of Indianapolis (WTTV) in the late 70s and 1980s?

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